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Michael Jackson trial: Plaintiffs question AEG witness' credibility

September 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A key witness for the defense found his research and his credibility severely tested in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial on Wednesday.

When the Los Angeles County coroner reported that Jackson died from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, the news struck Dr. Paul Earley, an addiction specialist and AEG defense witness who says he has treated more people for propofol addiction than anyone else in the nation.

Weeks after Jackson's death, Earley wrote in a blog titled, "Michael Jackson: Addiction in the Priveleged." Later he wrote, "Murray Convicted - Addiction Wins."

That term "addict" drew fire from the Jackson attorneys, who pointed out Earley never examined Jackson. They played an earlier statement from a video deposition in which Earley said, "If one dies of a propofol problem, it's not a far stretch to assume that addiction is the causation there."

The Jackson attorneys assert that Earley violated principles of ethics, which say that physicians may comment about a person in the public eye but "without making specific diagnostic comments."

Another ethics breach alleged by the Jackson attorneys is that Earley's study of propofol addiction among healthcare providers was funded with $53,000 provided by AEG. They also pointed out that the funding was noted on the last page of Earley's report instead of the title page.

Earley testified that was the decision of the editor and that the study was needed because so little research had been done on propofol abuse.

Jackson attorney Kevin Boyle attacked the credibility of Earley, who told the jurors on Tuesday that he was once hooked on drugs. On Wednesday, Boyle asked Earley what the drugs were.

Earley listed opioids, including Oxycodone and the street drug heroin. Earley testified that he speaks publicly about his addiction because he thinks "it is important that people understand that people can get better."

Another dispute centered on Earley's opinion that Jackson's life expectancy was grave because of his addiction to the painkiller Demerol. It is a point that could minimize what jurors might award Katherine Jackson if they find AEG liable for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray.

Earley conceded that he didn't know of anyone dying from Demerol injections from a doctor, but he knew of three deaths from improper administration by a doctor of propofol.


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